LONDON — An opposition monitoring group that has tracked Syria’s widening civil war said on Wednesday that more than 100,000 people had died in the 27-month-old conflict, with pro-government forces taking far more casualties than rebels seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, while civilians accounted for more than one-third of the overall fatalities, the biggest single category.
Cowell, Alan. “Syrian Group Says War Deaths Top 100,000.” The New York Times, June 26, 2013.
Perhaps the old days were better after all: assemble the armies on an open plain, send the warriors into it, and leave the noncombatants of both sides for the spoils of the winner.
“As always, numbers like these gloss over the many people who have been so grievously wounded, physically or psychologically, that they will never again live productive lives. What the latter figure amounts to in Syria is anyone’s guess. What’s certain is that it’s even larger than the death toll.”
Menon, Rajan. “Hope for Peace in Syria, But Don’t Expect It.” Blog. Huffington Post, June 26, 2013.
Rajan Menon’s report on the suffering goes on to note 1.7 million refugees on top of 4 million Internally Displaced Persons, or 5.7 million displaced souls altogether, about 25 percent of Syria’s total population before the onset of serious hostilities (but I’m not sure I’m getting consistent numbers from any source published within the past two years).
“In one trailer we meet 13-year-old Najwa. She curls back in the corner next to her husband, 19-year-old Khaled, and her mother, hardly saying a word.
Najwa is the youngest of three, her two older sisters in their late teens are also recently married.”
Damon, Arwa. “No sanctuary for Syria’s female refugees.” CNN, June 26, 2013.
Evidently, grim statistics don’t tell a whole story, or not much of whatever is to be told at all.
“The head of the International Terrorism Observatory think tank, Roland Jacquard, told Reuters Television the group appeared to be sending fighters abroad, likely to Syria.”
Pennetier, Marine and Alexandria Sage. “French police arrest cell with possible Syria links.” Reuters, June 25, 2013.
A cousin of a story.
Reuters. “Spain arrests suspected al-Qaeda Syria network.” Video. June 22, 2013.
“Special informed sources from London revealed to the Palestinian al-Manar newspaper that the British security forces arrested early June a group of 11 terrorists in London who had come back from Syria where they were involved in the fighting there.”
Syrian Arab News Agency. “British authorities arrest terrorists who fought in Syria.” June 19, 2013.
Wars draw volunteers. It’s a shame the one in Syria draws teenage ones. Belgium dealt with this issue back in April of this year:
Thanks to Ken Hanley at Digital Journal for playing this thematically related clip last week in his op-ed, “Many Foreign fighters involved in Syria on both sides” (Digital Journal, June 19, 2013).
While Israel’s cardinal military defense rule seems to remain, “Do not intervene; do not interfere” (DM Yaalon), Israel’s first virtue would seem to remain compassion to the extent that it may provide that.
“The two boys, 9 and 15 years old, were transferred to Ziv Hospital in Safed for treatment. The 9-year-old suffered moderate injuries from shrapnel wounds across his body and lost his right eye, according to a report by Maariv. The 15-year-old was listed in serious condition, according to the report.”
Times of Israel. “Minors wounded in Syrian fighting brought to Israel.” June 26, 2013.
Every wounded Syrian is guarded by either an IDF soldier or by a civilian security guard in an attempt to isolate them from speaking with anyone unauthorized to do so who might photograph them or pass on their information to Syria, potentially harming them or their families upon their eventual return to Syria.
As stated, more than a 100 wounded Syrians have crossed the border in recent months. Some 70 of them have been taken to Israeli hospitals, and two have passed away as a result of their injuries.
Zitun, Yoav. “More than 100 wounded Syrians receive care in Israel.” YNet News, June 26, 2013.
After 2,000 years or so, Hillel’s negatively stated dictum seems to hold. “That which is distasteful to thee, do not do to another” — and certainly, the choice between enabling or denying access to hospital services related well to that.
“The request came in a letter handed to Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker at a meeting with Druze leaders on the Golan Heights Thursday. The letter included an unprecedented request for Israel to take in Druze students who had left the Golan and settled in Syria, Maariv reported.”
Gur, Haviv Rettig. “Druze leaders ask Israel to take in Syrian brethren.” Times of Israel, June 23, 2013.
What would Hillel do?
Druze along the Golan have served both in the IDF and in Syria’s defense forces according to their decisions about citizenship and location, and with the fighting as I’ve described — “Two mad wasps in a bell jar” — Israeli Druze are seeking sanctuary for their relatives.
God knows God would seem to give Jews the toughest ethical and survival challenges.
At the same time.
Providing infirmary to wounded to be turned back into the field — and who want to be returned to their land — is one thing.
Affording sanctuary to those endangered by this war that only loosely respects boundaries and seems absent of compassion and conscience both in relation to innocents, noncombatants, neutral parties, and so on makes for a more difficult decision.
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